“Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.”
George Santayana’s immortal words apply across the spectrum of life. But in football this year, those who ignore the past are doomed to watch Seattle repeat. In the past decade, each Super Bowl Champion has not only failed to replicate their prior glory, they haven’t even made it to the conference championship. In fact, over the past 25 years, only three teams have won consecutive championships: Dallas, Denver and New England. Seattle is poised to join that elite group (and they won’t need Spygate-esque tactics to accomplish it).
Doug Baldwin was recently asked about this year’s Seahawks versus last year’s team. He answered that, “It’s a very different team, but a similar style. But the feeling that we had last year, it’s coming back, in terms of the energy on the field, the enthusiasm, and just having fun playing football.” Many Seattle fans share that feeling; it just feels right this year… again.
At the start of this season, CenturyLink had caused more false start penalties than any other stadium since 2005. No one is going in there and coming out with a victory. The AFC is filled with pretenders. The Cowboys were the only victorious road team in Seattle and Green Bay just isn’t the same team outside of Lambeau (not to mention the recent injury to Aaron Rodgers). There are a few roadblocks along Seattle’s paths, but no brick walls. Even if there were, the Legion of Boom would simply smash through them.
10. The 12th Man
Seattle will be guaranteed home field advantage up until the Super Bowl and no one is going into CenturyLink and coming out with a victory. The fans there are rambunctious, thunderous and deafening, though no adjective does the noise true justice. Seahawks nation has shattered the Guinness World Record for the loudest crowd, not once but twice. The first came in September of 2013 against their divisional rival San Francisco and the second came again in December of that same year against New Orleans.
Head coach Pete Carroll declared that, “The Twelfth Man has an unparalleled impact on game days.” The fans in Seattle have played such an integral part in the team’s success that on December 15th, 1984, Seahawks President Mike McCormack officially retired the number 12 jersey forever.
Last year, at age 62, Pete Carroll became the third oldest coach in NFL history to win a Super Bowl and it won’t be a surprise if he shatters Tom Coughlin’s record of 65 years in Seattle at some point. Carroll has put up impressive numbers in Seattle, going 50-30 the past five regular seasons and 6-4 in the postseason- numbers that stand in sharp contrast to his mediocre record in the 1990s in New England and New York. Today, Carroll is one of the greatest and perhaps the best motivational coach in the NFL today. He loves his players and the feeling is mutual. This will be critical during the grind of the NFL Playoffs. Do not underestimate the power of motivation. This will be a game-changer for the Seahawks if and when they ever find themselves having to play from behind.
8. No one in the NFC can stop them
Green Bay? Can’t win against the elite (or even mediocre) outside of Lambeau and with a limping Rodgers. Dallas? A banged-up Tony Romo ain’t going into Seattle twice and coming out with two victories. Arizona? Logan Thomas, Drew Stanton- it doesn’t matter who they start, only Carson Palmer stood a chance against that smothering Seattle Defense. Detroit? A group of pretenders whose defense can keep them in ball games but whose offense will turn the ball over at critical moments. Do we even need to consider the 7-8-1 Panthers? The only team that stood a chance of going in Seattle and emerging with a victory isn’t making it to the post-season amid a storm of coaching controversy. Jim Harbaugh will not get his chance at revenge this year, or perhaps ever again.
7. No one in the AFC can stop them
New England? Struggles with the elite outside of Foxborough. Denver? 43-8 anyone? Seattle will not dominate Denver like they did in February, but Peyton simply doesn’t stand a chance. The memories will haunt him. Cincinnati? Andy Dalton is not winning a championship in this lifetime, despite an excellent defense. Pittsburgh? Perhaps the only team that stands a chance against Seattle as they match up well and can control the clock with a powerful run game. But their defence is old and creaky and they are simply too inconsistent to win. Baltimore? Same story as the Steelers. Indianapolis? At some point their Luck runs out. No one in the AFC is taking down the BPD.
6. Richard Sherman
You may not like him, but you’ve got to respect him. Though Sherman hasn’t put up the same numbers he has in past years, he still holds an impressive resume. In just 64 career games, Sherman has a whopping 224 combined tackles, 65 defended passes, 24 interceptions, five forced fumbles and even a sack for good measure. His brash personality will make him no friends on opposing teams and while they can ignore his mouth, they can’t ignore his game. If Seattle goes deep, it will be on the back of Richard Sherman. Expect him to come up with an interception or two (maybe even a pick-six) at a critical juncture.
5. Brady/Manning’s recent struggles in Super Bowls
Tom Brady has three Super Bowl rings to his name. He also hasn’t won in the big game in over a decade and in the games he did win from 2001-2004, he had immense help from impeccable coaching, an elite defense and a little help from Lady Luck (each win came by a field-goal or less). Peyton Manning may be the greatest regular season quarterback of all time, but his pitiful playoff statistics cannot be ignored. He simply doesn’t perform consistently when it counts. Count on Richard Sherman and the Seattle defense to pick Brady or Manning (or Roethlisberger) at least twice in Arizona.
4. Experience & Chemistry
Whatever sport you’re playing, playoff experience is absolutely crucial. The pressure that comes with playing in the playoff spotlight is totally different from regular season expectations and some simply cannot handle it. Those who have been there before have a much better grasp of how they and their team will respond during those high intensity moments. This is the third consecutive year Seattle has made the postseason and fourth time in the last five years. They’ve won at least one playoff game in every appearance of the Pete Carroll era.
Seattle’s roster remains largely unchanged from last season (with the exception of receivers Golden Tate and Percy Harvin) and its playmakers understand what is coming. Brady, Manning, Rodgers and company have that same experience, but their respective teams simply don’t have the experience combined with the chemistry of Seattle. Anticipate that to be a factor as we move deeper into the playoffs.
3. Russell Wilson’s Legs
Russell Wilson is certainly not the flashiest quarterback in these playoffs. He’s not dating a supermodel and he doesn’t sponsor a pizza company, but he will be hoisting the Vince Lombardi trophy when it’s all over. Wilson recorded decent passing numbers this season with almost 3,500 yards, 20 touchdowns and only seven interceptions. But his yards on the ground are what make him a truly unique threat; no other QB in the playoffs comes close, with perhaps the exception of Cam Newton, although we don’t know how healthy he is. Wilson rushed for 849 yards and scored six touchdowns. He will undoubtedly be a nightmare for defenses to contain, if they can even stop Marshawn Lynch in the first place.
2. Beast Mode
Marshawn Lynch showed us in Arizona that the beast is not laying dormant for much longer. Don’t be surprised to see him jumping into the Cardinals’ end zone for a second time in February and receiving the accompanying fine that goes with it. The Beast is back with a vengeance so get your skittles ready, kids. This season Lynch kept pace with prior seasons, putting up 1,307 yards and 13 touchdowns on 280 attempts. This is impressive in and of itself, but Lynch also recorded 367 receiving yards and four receiving touchdowns. The Beast was let out of his cage in Arizona and he is about to go on a rampage.
1. Legion of Boom
Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor and Byron Maxwell. Are you shaking yet?This year, Seattle allowed the fewest points and the fewest yards. Their secondary allowed the fewest passing yards. They got better and better as the season went along. This has all come to be expected from this team. Expect Sherman and company to take it to the next level for the playoffs. While Malcolm Smith was named Super Bowl MVP last year, an argument could’ve been made for anybody on that defense.
They will not allow you to run the ball on them and, thus, opposing teams will have to take to the air to take down these birds. Seattle will have the most interceptions of any team these playoffs. Count on it. Offense moves the sticks, but defense… well, you get the idea. If you don’t, you will in February.
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